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    CPSIA, or How to Lose Your Small Business and the Shirt Off Your Back

    January 22, 2009

    Baby Brewing

     

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

    The emphasis was added by me.  I’m sitting here at my computer trying to think of something thoughtful and coherent to write about this new law known as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) which goes into effect on February 10, 2009.  I’m at a loss.  No, wait.  Losing is what is about to happen to me.  Julie from Mother Goose Mouse tagged me on this and when Julie asks you to do anything, you just do it. 

    Maybe you have heard about it, maybe you haven’t.  A result of that horrible fiasco with Mattel a year ago when they provided China with the lead-free paint and the manufacturers sold the lead-free paint and slapped on lead-FILLED paint on toys, Congress rushed this lead testing legislation right on through.  In fact, it received one”nay” in the House on the first pass (Thank you very much, Ron Paul).  The Senate?  Nearly as pathetic. 

    “We must protect the children.”  I find it fascinating after having read the legislation that those who passed it may not have even given it a glance.  Rather than target items that have in the past been found harmful for children (such as toys), the legislation takes a fabulously broad CYA approach.  If we require everyone to repeatedly test everything for lead, we will ensure that children will not be exposed to it.  Sounds great in theory, right?  Except now everything that could go in the mouth of a child 12 and under has to be tested for lead.  Even things that have never harmed children before.  Even things that have never had lead in them.  We are required to repeatedly test these lead-free items:  first the manufacturer and then anyone else down the line who alters the item in any way.  My shirts that are made by American Apparel?  Even though American Apparel has tested them and found no lead, I have to test them again because I alter them by screen printing.  My ink that I use?  Lead-free.  Already tested.  I still have to test the finished product.  I find this overwhelming since I’m not exactly sure how I would get lead into these lead-free tees with lead-free ink.  I guess it’s time to take the tin foil hat off my head. 

    I cannot find one case of lead poisoning as a result of lead in 100% cotton tees.  If you know of one, let me know.  How exactly is this law making kids safer if in some cases they were already safe?  The legislation is filled, however, with promises of millions of dollars to do research to determine the effects of lead on all of these things if they were to ever have lead in them.  Um, okay? Do I think toys should be tested?  Of course.  My kids put everything in their mouth when they were little.  That seems logical to me.  Raise the fines and consequences for people who break the law and expose kids to unsafe conditions?  Absolutely.  Throw out this tremendous net thinking it will keep those who need to be watched on track?  Insanity. 

    The trouble is, children’s apparel is included in this lead testing legislation.  No one trusts China anymore but because of our trade agreements, our rules have to be the same.  I have to have all of my kids clothing tested for lead which has never been in the dye in my clothing and isn’t now.  This law doesn’t make children any safer because they were never at risk from my clothing.  

     

    And wait ’til you hear about the testing.  I have to send completed items to be tested.  So if my “I’m better than a puppy” comes in pink, blue, organic cotton and white with brown ink, I have to send in four completed tees in each size.  They will charge me for each component (tee and ink) for all four.  They are going to charge me $75 four times to test the same ink on four different shirts.  Did I mention that my ink company has already tested the ink and that the lead contained it in was so incredibly small that it didn’t even register?  That American Apparel has to do these same tests before they send their cotton tees to me?  They will send me certifications that the shirts comply but the law says I have to retest.  So now I have to send full shirts out that will or will not be destroyed as a result of testing, at a cost of $150 per shirt.  To put it in perspective, I will have to pay $1,800 just to test the “I’m better than a puppy” tee (that doesn’t include the onesies and the long sleeve tees).  Maybe I shouldn’t have offered all those colors in all those different styles.  Maybe I shouldn’t have given my customers so many options.  The law is retroactive so everything I have sitting around has to be tested.  I find myself with a couple of this color in this size and a couple of this color in this size.  When I say a couple, I mean that over six sizes, 16 styles and different colors, I am sitting on around 500 tees.  Let’s not get into the fact that $900 of that testing on those four shirts for just ONE STYLE of the “I’m better than a puppy” is for ink that has already been fully tested once and DOESN’T EVEN REGISTER THE LEAD, LET ALONE GET ANYWHERE NEAR THE LEAD LIMIT. 

    As a student of the law, I can tell you that there is no shortage of legislation regarding consumer protection.  I’m a firm believer that toys and other items that are or could be harmful to children should be banned.  Rails of cribs that kids can chew on?  Shouldn’t have lead.  But passing legislation that basically says anything that can ever go in the mouth of a child 12 and under must be tested for lead is ridiculous.  Requiring people to re-test after a manufacturer has already tested is ridiculous and a waste of money.  Requiring people to be tested by a previously approved testing facility mandated by the government makes you wonder if you are in the wrong business.

    In this economy, Congress has successfully pissed off a wide range of people.  Wait until all the Green people realize that old toys will have to be thrown into a landfill rather than be recycled because any sale of them will violate this law.  How about those of us who loved to scour consignment stores because it is better suited for our budget and we don’t NEED new every single time?  Love yourself some Etsy?  Every single one of those people making stuff for kids will most likely be shut down by the cost prohibitive testing (which most likely will already have been done by manufacturers anyway). 

    But, Internet, while excessive and unnecessary government intervention is screwing me, there is a rainbow for you.  That rainbow is the HUGE sale at Baby Brewing.  All of the kid and baby tees, regularly $16, are now $6.  I figure it is better to cut my losses now rather than either wait for Congress to have their heads removed from their, well, okay, who are we kidding?  If you could hook a sister up and pass the word along to your friends, I would really appreciate it.  Come on.  Everyone you know is having a baby.  It can’t hurt to stick a tee in a closet for a baby shower or a preschooler party you forgot you were getting stuck attending. 

    If you want to read more about this travesty with the CPSIA (and all of the industries that will effectively be shut down), others have done a much better job of explaining it in a way that does not ramble or seem like a rant.  I’m off to cry myself to sleep. 

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    Because you can never run into too many idiots

    May 27, 2008

    Sunday and Monday I did another one of those crafty shows. I made a new BFF (Hi, ELLEN!!!), Wendy brought me Smart Food popcorn on her 7-Eleven run and I had a fabulous time.

    Instead of waxing poetic about the 9,999 people who “ooh’d” and “aaah’d” over the MNAC shirts, I would much rather tell you the story of the guy who said the wrong thing. I decided to write it over at my brand new Mommy Needs a Business blog at Work it, Mom! because, well, it seemed funnier over there than here. When Nataly asked if I would blog at Work It, Mom, I told her that I could only write there if I didn’t have to pretend that I have a FRIGGIN’ CLUE about what I am doing. So basically is all half-assed, all across the internet.

    So go over there to find the story. Just so you know, I left out the part about the much younger girlfriend who laughed at his comment. I left her out of the story because I too was once that girl who dated the guy who said the stupid things and I thought he was funny. Until I realized that one day he would be 43 and still trolling for chicks on Match because God forbid he ever become a grown up. She too will wake up one day and realize the error of her ways and marry the Nice Guy.

    Head on over to my new digs at Work it, Mom! to see exactly what I said to Prince Charming when he made smart ass comments about my Mommy Needs a Cocktail shirt. Go to my first post and leave a comment for a chance to win a MNAC tee or a My Mom Doesn’t Want your Advice tee. Just do it. Even if you don’t want the shirt. Not that it’s a CONTEST for attention or anything. I mean, it’s not like I asked you to vote for me on a reality show or anything.

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    Craft shows: It’s kinda like the travelling circus, but without all the glamour

    April 8, 2008

    Dude.  The Bizarre Bazaar this past weekend.  What can I say?  Not even one remotely bizarre thing in the whole place.  270 booths of sweetness and goodness.  Make that 269 booths of sweetness and goodness. 

    There was a little feistiness.  Besides the fact that 75% of my sales were maternity shirts.  No, I did not drink the water when I was in Richmond.  You southern girls are fun.  You girls, you know who you are….  Nothing like bonding over a little half-assed parenting and a small dose of inappropriate conversation.  And Beergirl?  Came on Friday and wore the brand new MNAC robe for a large portion of the afternoon.  Once she got it on, she didn’t want to take it off.  You wanna see it?  Here it is.  Martini Robe

    It is by far the most comfortable robe you have ever, ever put on your body.  Not available on the website yet. And I only made 14 of them, so they may never make it to the website.   A bargain at $50.  And did you notice?  No MNAC.  It’s officially a robe for EVERYONE.  WooHOO!!   You’ll have to email me to find out how to get one.  From size small to women’s size XL.  I KNOW.  QUE LINDA!

    The fair thing?  It’s a little odd.  I mean, some guy making soap will clear 5 figures in a weekend.  Don’t get that excited for me.  That didn’t even remotely happen over here.  But it’s cool.  But this is what people do for a living.  As I was packing up, I realized that I reeked of “rookie.”  There I was in the rain, piling up my crates in the back of the truck, cursing my father-in-law under my breath as I watched my fellow exhibitors load up their crap in retro-fitted vans and trailers and trucks.  Cursing my FIL because, when I had the money to buy an SUV, he gave me a come-to-Jesus speech about the greatness of my Volvo. 

    Yeah, you get more than 4 crates into a Volvo.  Thus, The Husband’s truck.  No, I really like to climb up into the back of the truck to push the crates all the way to the back.  And then move everything around 500 times until I figure out how exactly to fit everything in.  That mechanical gene?  That one that, when you see all those different shaped blocks, you fit them together to make a 6 bedroom house with a sauna, spa and indoor pool?  Not so much.  Meanwhile, at 11 minutes after the close of the show, the ladies with the 900 million hair bows on 37 display pieces have done inventory, shrink-wrapped everything, loaded their van and are now smoking a Marlboro before heading out to do a show in West Virginia.  Me?  It took me 1 hour and 47 minutes to decide whether to put the 22 size large shirts into a crate with a blue top or a crate with a black top.  I had 12 crates, people.  This is not rocket science.  I went to law school.  Seriously?

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